Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2020 on a $504 million project to reduce congestion on an approximately nine-mile stretch of US 183 in Northwest Austin by adding two toll lanes.
Before a contractor shows up in the area with hundreds of employees and its construction equipment, the agency overseeing the project wants to make sure there are no surprises.
On March 27, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority approved an addition of $4.2 million to an agreement with engineering firm WSP, Inc. to provide services that will lead the mobility authority to the point in which it can select a contractor to perform the construction in May 2020.
Justin Word, CTRMA’s director of engineering, said allocating additional money early in the process of the US 183 North project will cut down on the risk later on. Word said CTRMA’s staff has met quarterly to review its projects, and this approach came in part from feedback out of those meetings.
“Lessons learned over the past three years or more have been applied to this project. The additional costs we’re looking at here are really for risk mitigation.” Word told CTRMA’s board of directors at the March 27 meeting.
The new toll lanes on US 183 are scheduled to open to traffic in 2025 and will be priced to increase and decrease along with traffic demand, similarly to the toll lanes on MoPac. City buses can use the lanes for free. The tolled lanes will connect to Toll 183A in Cedar Park as well as MoPac.
Over much of the next year, WSP, Inc. will provide services such as gathering geotechnical information, locating utilities and testing soil. Board member John Langford said he supported staff’s approach to the project.
“I think one of the most important things we have is our reputation to deliver things on time and on budget. Having credibility in that regard carries so much weight for us to be able to take on additional projects moving forward,” Langford said.